Doughtnut diplomacy can help save the world

Published 1:11 am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Did he or did he not say it?

Fifty years ago, did President John F. Kennedy say he was a jelly doughnut while delivering his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in Berlin? Or did he say he was a Berliner?

A Berliner is a type of jelly doughnut made in Berlin.

Over the years, multiple sources have said Kennedy should have said, “Ich bin Berliner,” if he wanted to say he was a Berlin native or resident. According to a post on, the writer said a German journalist said Kennedy’s phrasing “Ich bin ein Berliner” was the correct way to say, “I am one with the people of Berlin.”

It’s my conjecture that the people of Berlin were pleased with Kennedy saying he was one of them or he was a jelly doughnut. No doubt there were some Berliners who likely would have preferred Kennedy to be a jelly doughnut.

One of these days, I am going to Winston-Salem and deliver a speech. I will speak English (a mash of Southern accents) to make it clear what I am saying. I will say, “I am a Krispy-Kreme doughnut!”

(Pay attention, Bartow Houston. The Associated Press stylebook makes it clear those tasty, glazed delights are doughnuts, not donuts. But no matter how you spell doughnut, you and I will continue to eat our share of Krispy-Kremes until we depart this Earth. You have my permission to depart first, but not for a few more years.)

When I say, “I am Krispy-Kreme doughnut,” I will mean just that. I will not mean, “I am one with the people of Winston-Salem,” except when it comes to appreciating — and eating — Krispy-Kreme doughnuts.

I discovered — OK, my parents introduced me to — Krispy-Kreme doughnuts before my kindergarten days in Pensacola, Fla. A titanic, gigantic and enormous Krispy-Kreme shop was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of North Pace Boulevard and West Fairfield Avenue. I distinctly remember two things about that doughnut shop: first, there was a neon sign depicting a man picking up and eating a doughnut, which impressed me; second, it was on the way to my maternal grandparents’ home, which provided me many opportunities to ask — OK, beg — for some hot, glazed doughnuts.

Somewhere at home, I have an 8×10 photograph of that Krispy-Kreme shop. As much as I appreciate the home office of Krispy-Kreme sending me that photograph several years ago, it would have been better received if some glazed doughnuts had accompanied it. That’s what same-day delivery is all about.

At that same intersection, there were a McDonald’s (no inside seating) and a Krystal, home to those little burgers (for you Yankees and Midwesterners, think White Castle). That McDonald’s was my first-ever McDonald’s, where 50 cents got you a burger, fries and a beverage — and some change. I remember somebody buying a paper sack filled with Krystals, which I believe were a dime each in those days. Out of that sack came enough mini-burgers to feed a family of four (baby sister Donna did not come along until Sept. 1, 1962).

If I ever visit Vienna, Austria, I hope someone there will teach me to say in German: “I am an ‘apfelstrudel.’”

Translation of apfelstrudel: apple strudel.

If I ever visit Berlin, I would prefer knackwurst (that’s right, it’s knackwurst, but I would also take a jelly doughnut).

Perhaps 50 years ago, Kennedy would have been better served by a baker than an interpreter.

Mike Voss is the senior member of the Washington Daily News’ newsroom.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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